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General Knowledge

How does an Owl see clearly at night?

How does an Owl see clearly at night?

You know that an Owl can see very clearly at night. But do you know how is it possible? If not, let us see.

Owl is a bird with a large head and eyes. It has a short neck, broad wings and sharp claws. There are about 130 species of Owls found around the world. Owls can see very clearly during night compared to day-time.

Nocturnal birds are those which can see more clearly during night than during daylight. Therefore, Owls belong to the Nocturnal birds category. They come to activity during night.

Science behind vision

Light reflected from various objects is focused on the screen-like Retina inside the eyes using the eye-lenses. The Inverted Image created thus is transmitted to the brain using Optic Nerves. The brain rotates this image and we see the object in its real form.

The eyes of an Owl has some special features due to which it can see more clearly during night.

  1. Distance between Lenses and Retina – The distance is more than that of a human eye. Because of this, the image formed on the retina is bigger for Owls
  2. The number of “Rods” and “Cons” – Owls have a larger number of Rods and Cons in the Retina. These are special cells which help in the vision. Owls have approximately 10,000 of these cells per square millimeter. Human eyes in comparison have only about 2,000 or so. Due to this, Owls can see at least five times more than us
  3. The Red Coloured Material in an Owls eyes – This makes its eyes more sensitive to light. This is chemically a protein
  4. Dilating Power of the Pupils – Owls have more dilating power for its pupils. This allows entry of even smallest amount of light into its eyes

These four important things helps Owls to see more clearly in the night than the day time. When it is bright light, the objects appear too bright due to the extreme sensitivity of their eyes. This makes them uncomfortable during day time. Another fact is that the Owls can rotate their head by 180 degree. Due to this, it can also see at the back of its head.

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Picture used for illustration only – Credit: Airwolfhound

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Born and brought up in Kerala, I did my schooling in Kerala and graduated (B.Sc Physics) from the Calicut University. I have worked with a Swedish Company from 1994 to 2015, as a Senior Project Manager in their Group IT Division in Dubai. This blog is the result of my strong desire to communicate with others, sharing what I know and what I could gather from various sources.


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